Purdue 31, Maryland 29: Learn Tenacity

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Jeff Brohm was in the desert after the 2020 season. As far as he is paid by Purdue, today is the first time he has an overall record over .500 since the end of the 2018 regular season. After losing to Auburn in that Music City Bowl bloodshed, he was 13-13 and then went 6-12 over the next 18 games. The 2019 season was lost due to a series of injuries. The 2020 season is basically a complete washout due to COVID.

A turning point seems to have been taken, however, and today was just the latest example. Since the start of 2021, Purdue is an impressive 13-6, and of the six losses, three were games that Purdue could easily have won in the last minute. Even this year is a microcosm of that growth. Purdue lost late leads to Penn State and Syracuse. The last two weeks against Minnesota and Maryland he showed improvement and made the plays necessary to win.

Today was just more of a mad rush. Since it’s fall vacation this coming week, the family and I headed to Gatlinburg for a great trip. It was a beautiful drive through northern Kentucky on a perfect fall day as I watched the game, but I was glad we stopped to refuel at Buc-ee in Richmond, Kentucky. Just as I put the gas nozzle in my car, Payne Durham made a 56-yard catch and ran towards the two as Purdue held a 1-point lead.

The next 98 seconds of playing time is why Purdue fans have a mental complex.

Purdue couldn’t completely miss the time, but wanted to score. Maryland knew we wanted to score, but they wanted time on the clock. It turned into a weird trading session where Maryland knew they were very likely to give up 3-7 points before getting the ball back, while Purdue wanted to take as much time and as many timeouts from the Terrapins as possible. . It was almost like seeing an MLB trade delay deal in real life. In the end, Purdue traded 52 seconds and Maryland’s last two timeouts for 7 points and the ball.

Even then, it felt like Purdue could have done more. If Devin Mockobee just falls short of the end zone, Purdue likely throws a field goal and returns the ball to Maryland with a 4-point lead and about 40 seconds left and no timeouts. Of course, the Maryland TD drive only took 37 seconds because of the soft cover and Charmin’s pressure, so I guess it worked.

Even if it became clear that the Terps were going to score a TD, we still had the ace of a game to tie or seal the game. Regardless of how fast Maryland scored, they had to go for 2 and convert. Even that was heavy. They converted early, only to have it called off because a lineman blocked too far down the field. Purdue pressured Tagovailoa for a bad pitch, then Tyrone Tracy recovered a heartbreaking kick for the win.

And yes, I was well aware that Chad Ryland was waiting on the other end to beat Purdue to the horn for the second time in his career if the Terps got the kick back in play.

We are Purdue. We nearly took a knee against FAU on the outside. Of course, I was nervous with the clock ticking with 10 seconds left and the teams shaking hands because we didn’t need to clap again.

Top contributor Juan Crespo said it best today: Purdue could be 6-0 right now or 1-5. The only game so far that was definitely five minutes from the end was Indiana State. As I watched this critical 98 seconds today from inside a Buc-ee, I’m sure people thought I was a lunatic pacing the store and looking on my phone. When my wife and son found me in the store they asked what was wrong because they said it looked like I had run a 5K.

No, I’m just a Purdue fan. This is my default setting in close games.

At least we’ve seen Purdue improve in the past two weeks. they made games necessary when it mattered most. Last week was a clutch disc for a field goal, a 3 and an out and a big run from Mockobee. Today was a blocked extra run, a big drive after doing very little offensively, a three-and-out and another big play.

Two weeks ago, after barely surviving Florida Atlantic, I wondered if this team was going to fall apart and struggled to bowl. Now I’m thinking “We could legitimately win and have one game in Indy at the Rose Bowl.” It’s just being a Purdue fan. It’s a wild swing of emotions. Right now, I’m confident we’ll never make the Final Four again, but the moment we win our next NCAA Tournament game, I’ll start imagining the path to our eventual national title.

This team is different. They have a tenacious defense that can make big plays and conceal an attack that stalls a little too much. Yes, Jeff Brohm struggled in close games. but the last two weeks it was the better team in the last minutes. The Purdue fan in me is on guard because every time we feel like we’re turning a corner, we hit a brick wall. but we have a chance to accomplish something quite special this year. We had two tough games on the road where our opponent had a lot of media hyping it up, only to get us the win. We’re halfway through the year and we’re 4-2, just like last season. The next six games can be very important, because a runt lead in Indy means nine straight (or better?) seasons for the first time in a quarter century. Jeff Brohm is no longer a new coach, but he is in a prime position to become an established coach.

It’s a great place to be, especially when people are already talking about a Nebraska team that “put it all together” after beating two crap teams.

Let’s continue this race.

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